17Oct Sunday October 17, 2021. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, October 17 2021

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

(1) Isaiah 53:10-11

God’s faithful Servant bears the world’s sins and sorrow; but he will prosper in the end

It was the will of the Lord to crush his servant with pain. When he make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Responsorial: from Psalm 33

R./: Lord, may your mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you

The word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love. (R./)

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love.
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine. (R./)

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
May your love be upon us, O Lord,
as we place all our hope in you. (R./)

(2) Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus knows our needs and weaknesses. Our high priest is very approachable

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Gospel: Mark 10:35-45

Jesus overturns our ranking system; people who serve are greatest in God’s sight

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man has come not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”


Willingness to Serve

The theme of the willing servant matches the missionary ideal perfectly. The ideal missionary is so devoted to the good of the people whom s/he is sent to serve that they plan both their activities and their life-style to match the real needs of those people. There is a huge effort of adaptation and inculturation involved, so that the Gospel can integrate into the lives of the local people. This goes well beyond the initial need to learn the local language, and the most effective symbols to use, so that the message of Jesus can be understood and loved.

In our world, where most of the celebrities highlighted in the media seem motivated by self-interest and self-assertion Jesus’ call to total service seems unrealistic, and, one might think, unlikely to succeed. But today’s Gospel offers the ideal of dedication to the service of others as fundamental to Christian discipleship. Jesus came “not to be served, but to serve” and this example must always be a guiding light for his followers. He went about doing good (cf. Acts 10:38), bringing justice, healing, forgiveness and kindness into people’s lives. This is why those who believe in him are challenged to give themselves, their talents and their time, to the service of others without seeking any other reward than knowing that this is supremely worthwhile. The acted parable of the foot-washing at the Last Supper gives out the same message.

In practice what can we learn from our Lord’s life and actions? He clearly said that he came to do the Father’s will, and this thought stayed with him, even when it led to suffering and a cruel death. He was always about the Father’s business, and made it his business. This prompts us too, with an active sense of duty, and a personal dedication to God’s will for us. Normally, we discover our duty and God’s will for us, not in world-changing plans or in heroic ideals but in the ordinary tasks of each day. At home or in the office, or the school or other workplace, or wherever the activity of the moment calls us, we try to be aware of duty and a sense of dedication. Whenever we work in a slipshod manner, of fail to offer the needed helping hand, we fall below our personal call to service. What a change it would make, if there was a widespread return to this spirit, with regard to people’s daily work. We need to be reminded that in rendering to others the service of a job well done we are imitating the serving Christ and being his fellow-workers in building up the kingdom of God on earth.

It is tempting to be selfish with our time and energy. There are so many plausible excuses for excluding ourselves from the work that needs to be done. How easy to join the many who just live for themselves and let society fend for itself. But today’s Scripture calls us to examine our conscience, and to face the question, “What can I do for my community, rather than what can my community do for me?” It is one of the most basic values we have to keep on learning throughout our lives. The approach of James and John, in today’s Gospel, is not unlike the way many of us come to God. We approach him in prayer with the greatest fervour, whenever we want something for ourselves. Jesus responds to their request with a request of his own, thereby showing that what he wants for us must take priority over what we want for ourselves. The only request worth making is that which he taught us to make, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10.) His will, as expressed in today’s Gospel, is that we should share in his cup and in his baptism, that cup which he was to ask the Father to take from him (Mk 14:36), and that baptism of fire which he knew he had to undergo. His death on the cross was but the final expression of that total service which characterised the whole of his life. Everyday he died to himself, because he lived “not to be served, but to serve.” His life was a daily emptying of self (Phil 2:7), a self-emptying which was only complete when he gave his last breath on the cross The complete missionary!


What should we pray for?

Most of us have had the experience of asking for something and not getting it. That experience begins in childhood when we begin to learn the difficult lesson that others do not automatically respond to our wants and whims. In adolescence we discover that our peers are not mirror images of ourselves and do not always behave or respond to us in the way we want them to. In adulthood we learn the delicate art of compromise when what we want and what others want come into conflict with each other. We also discover that in our relationship with God our prayers are not always answered, even when they focus not on ourselves but on others and their well-being. The experience of unanswered prayer can be a real challenge to our faith.

In today’s gospel, James and John come before Jesus with a prayer of petition. They ask him, ‘allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ The previous time Mark had depicted James and John together was on the mount of transfiguration with Peter. There they had an experience of Jesus in his glory, flanked by Moses and Elijah. James and John understood this experience as an anticipation of what was to come, and in the future they wanted the places occupied by Moses and Elijah. Mark emphasizes the inappropriateness of this request of James and John by placing it immediately after the third announcement by Jesus of his coming passion and death, ‘the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles—’ (Mk 10:33-34). As Jesus declares that he is shortly to be humbled, James and John ask Jesus that they be exalted. Here is a prayer that has far too much of ‘self’ in it. It is not a prayer that Jesus can respond to. Sometimes, our own prayers can have a lot of ‘self’ in them, even when they are prayers for others. One dimension of our growing up into the person of Jesus is learning to pray as he prays, entering into his ongoing prayer to the Father. It is only the Holy Spirit who can enable our prayer to harmonize with that of the risen Lord. As Paul states in his letter to the Galatians, ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba” Father!’ (Gal 4:6). In his letter to the Romans he comments that ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words’ (Rom 8:26). Our prayer will be a sharing in Jesus’ own prayer when it is shaped by the inarticulate sighs of the Spirit deep within us.

In response to the brothers’ request of Jesus, he makes his own request of them, ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptized with the baptism with which I must be baptized?’ Jesus is presented in the gospels as asking many questions. One access point to the gospel story of Jesus for us today is to sit with the many questions that Jesus asks. A very different form of prayer to the prayer of petition is to listen to the various petitions that Jesus addresses to us and, having listened, to respond honestly from the depths of our heart. Jesus’ petition to James and John finds an echo in Jesus’ own prayer of petition in the garden of Gethsemane, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want’ (Mk 14:36). The very cup that Jesus asked James and John to drink, he hesitated to drink himself. Yet, he went on to drink it because his prayer, ‘Remove this cup from me’, was secondary to his more fundamental prayer, ‘Not what I want, but what you want.’ Jesus does not request of his disciples anything he is not prepared to do himself. As today’s second reading remarks, we have a high priest ‘who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin.’ Jesus’ petition to James and John is addressed to all of us. He asks if we are prepared to commit ourselves to his servant way, even when it means the way of the cross, the way of self-denial and self-giving. The attentive listener may be put in mind of the sacraments of Eucharist and baptism by Jesus’ reference to ‘the cup’ and ‘baptism.’ At baptism we are baptized into Jesus’ servant way and when we celebrate the Eucharist we renew our commitment to that way.


 


 

3 Responses

  1. Kevin Walters

    Sunday October 17, 2021. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

    “One dimension of our growing up into the person of Jesus is learning to pray as he prays, entering into his ongoing prayer to the Father.”

    The Holy Spirit prompts us to cry out Father! With His beloved Son as His Holy Spirit inspired/gave His Beloved Son the pray which glorifies His Name as we are taught to say in Unity of Purpose.

    Our Father, who art in heaven
    Hallowed be thy name
    thy kingdom (Of Grace) come (via your Holy Spirit, then)
    thy will, (Will) be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven
    Give us this day our daily bread (While with your Mercy we would be fed)
    Forgive us our trespasses as we (Also) forgive those who trespass against us
    Lead not into (The Test of) temptation but deliver us from evil

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. Thara Benedicta

    Key Message:

    DO IT JUST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!

    Homily:
    The takeaway from the first reading:

    Today’s first reading simply answers the questions raised by God’s children, “Why God, why? Why am I suffering?”. The question may actually come out as “Why am I suffering from illness?” or “Why did you give me a special child?” or “I understand that you have gifted me a job. But why is the official situation so painful?” or “Why there are so many troublemakers in my family or friends or in the office?”

    The answer is simple, as explained in today’s first reading, Isaiah 53:11: The suffering is for bearing the iniquities of the world.

    Generally people have one major query here.
    Query: “While the Bible repeats that the blood of our loving Lord Jesus is sufficient enough to save us from our sins, then why do we say that further sufferings are required for the salvation of our souls? Isn’t the suffering of Christ all sufficient? Why did the saints suffer?”

    Let us understand it with an example from the Autobiography of Saint Little Thérèse of the Child Jesus. During the life of Little Thérèse of the Child Jesus, there was a notable criminal by the name of Pranzini, who was due to be hanged. Little Thérèse wanted him to save his soul. But Pranzini was unrepentant. So Thérèse did every possible sacrifice, prayer and shed tears for the conversion of his soul. She united her sacrifices with all the sacrifices of the saints and the treasures of the church. As a result, Pranzini repented for his sins, asked for forgiveness, just minutes before he was hanged. He repented and kissed the crucified hand of our Jesus three times.

    If Saint Thérèse had not prayed and offered sacrifices for the soul of Pranzini, would Pranzini have repented? But once he had repented, the blood of our Loving Lord Jesus was sufficient enough to wash away his sins.

    To bring a sinner to repentance, we need prayers and sacrifices.

    The takeaway from the second reading:

    The second reading tells us beautifully to overcome the feeling of guilt.
    For example, let us take the life of the Apostles Peter and Judas. Both the Apostles Peter and Judas rejected Jesus at one point in time. Peter looked at Jesus, so he was able to overcome his guilt and he led a fruitful life thereafter. But Judas focussed on his sin only, so he succumbed to his guilt. Jesus never condemned the sinners nor punished them. He took the punishment for the sins upon Himself.

    So let us not waste our time by focussing on our past sins. Instead, let us focus on the crucified Lord Jesus, ask for forgiveness of our sins and serve our Lord Jesus wholeheartedly.

    The takeaway from Gospel reading:
    DO IT JUST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!

    This is the core of today’s Gospel teaching. Let the love for God be our only motivation, not the recognition we receive from the work. When we are motivated to work only because of our love for God, God upholds us in the palm of His hand.

    How do we live for the love of God?
    Though this question may seem to be highly spiritual and immediately makes us imagine living like a hermit, the answer is too simple (but not easy!!) Pleasing God through our daily life!!

    Examples:
    When we are helping in Church in any activity, some people may misinterpret our good intentions. We may be tempted to complain about them and talk to others about the agony they have caused us. But we should offer the agony to God and continue doing our work with a smile because we are not working to impress people, but we are working for the love of God.

    If one of our colleagues keeps torturing us with their words, appoint Jesus as our Manager and talk it out with Lord Jesus. Offer this pain, “Lord, I am taking up this suffering and offering it to you. I am not sure how to handle it. Please handle it for me”.

    If any person whom you serve, be it your friend, spouse, manager, peer, brother, mother, or any relation, causes huge pain, appoint Jesus in that position. If your brother is causing pain, then say, “Jesus, You are my brother. Whatever I want from a brother, I trust You will do it for me. I will be good to my troublesome brother, even though he bothers me a lot, just because I love You”.

    We should not waste any of our sufferings. We can offer all our sufferings along with the sufferings of our Lord Jesus on the cross, sufferings of our Mamma Mary, and sufferings of our saints for the salvation of souls.

    Tips for implementing the Takeaways:

    1. Whatever we are taking ownership of in our hands, we need to carry it with prayer and sacrifice. Be it family responsibilities or official responsibilities or social or spiritual responsibilities, we need to add prayer and sacrifice. When we lift up our responsibility to God, God takes care of us. We see the example of the Prophet Samuel. When the prophet Samuel was leading the Israelites, Israel was in full peace.

    2. Jesus says in the Gospel reading the cup which He drinks, His disciples will also drink. Our Lord Jesus drank the cup of hardships. Then we will also have to drink a similar cup of hardships. Let us not worry that we are having a hard life. A hard life will be a good life when we are fruitful. Worry will lead to self-pity. Excessive self-pity can lead to depression too. Our life will become useless for God, others, and ourselves. So let us come out of the world of self-pity. Be bold and courageous to fight till the end. Christ’s sufficiency is sufficient enough for us to fight till the end.

    3. What will happen if we live for ourselves?
    As we read the Gospel reading, the other ten Apostles got angry with the sons of Zebedee. The same applies to us also. In spite of doing good work, we will find people angry with us easily when our heart is not set right i.e. if we are working for our own glory. It is true that even if our heart is set right, people will misunderstand us, but then eventually God will come to our rescue. But if our heart is not right with God, and we are doing it for our own glory, then people will get easily irritated and angry with us. God will ask us to handle it, which will be challenging.

    4. The crucified hand of Jesus was the one that triggered Little Thérèse of the Child Jesus to pray for the conversion of the hearts of sinners. Little Thérèse saw the blood flowing from the hands of our Jesus Christ without anyone to catch it and pour upon the poor souls.
    Excerpt from the Autobiography of Saint Thérèse:
    “My heart was torn with grief to see that Precious Blood falling to the ground, and no one caring to treasure It as It fell, and I resolved to remain continually in spirit at the foot of the Cross, that I might receive the Divine Dew of Salvation and pour it forth upon souls. From that day the cry of my dying Saviour — ”I thirst!” — sounded incessantly in my heart, and kindled therein a burning zeal hitherto unknown to me. My one desire was to give my Beloved to drink; I felt consumed with a thirst for souls, and I longed at any cost to snatch sinners from the everlasting flames of hell.”

    Little Thérèse pledged to receive the blood of Jesus and pour it upon the poor souls. God is searching for intercessors to pray for His people. Can we realise our intercessory prayer call?

    A praying person is a powerful person!!

  3. Kevin Walters

    Sunday October 17, 2021. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

    For clarity to my Post above @1. A response to the above post made on another site;

    “Some translation have “deliver us from The Test” or “final Test”…as a reference to the Ultimate Test of our Humanity: unable to bear the Presence of a Holy and Just God. In the Book of Revelations we see the rescued souls of Humanity hidden under the altar (during the Final Test) asking “how long?”

    I was thinking more on the lines of
    Job1:6-12: Job’s afflictions began from the malice of Satan, by the Lord’s permission, for wise and holy purposes.
    Proverbs 17:3 A crucible is for silver and a furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart
    Matt 4:1 ”Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”
    So, pray not to be put/’led to the Test/of temptation’ as He was, rather, Father protect/keep us ‘awake’ and ‘deliver us from evil”

    Because

    When Jesus returned to the disciples and found them sleeping He asked Peter “Were you not able to keep watch with Me for one hour?” while teaching him and all of us also to “Watch and pray so that you/we will not enter into temptation “For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

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